Montclair council meeting: downtown withdrawals, contracts, 4th arrondissement

MONTCLAIR, NJ – The Montclair City Council has authorized several contracts and financing plans, and made an important development-related decision at its public meeting last week.

Watch a video of the July 26 meeting below. See the meeting agenda here.

Montclair City Councilor Peter Yacobellis outlined several actions council took last week in an email. According to Yacobellis, one of the biggest changes was in development:

“We have reduced the building height potential for most of Portland Place’s south lots from six stories to three stories. The Planning Board and advocates have asked us to do this for all downtown businesses, outside of designated redevelopment areas. I am not comfortable taking such a drastic step at this time. I want to investigate this further and hear from more people. However, we have required that in the future, any building in the C-1 commercial district (most of downtown) be required to have steps back past the third floor – like a staircase or a wedding cake.This should help ensure that tall buildings are not as imposing as some others that have been built historically.

According to Yacobellis, other updates include:

PARK, SWIMMING POOL IN THE 4TH DISTRICT – “We have authorized a contract to bring updates to Canterbury Park in the south end of the city, specifically to update the pathways, resurface the playground and install four benches. This is now the third park in the township and fourth overall park (including Glenfield County Park) getting an overhaul in Montclair’s 4th Ward – long overdue investments. However, no good deed goes unpunished. Unfortunately, due to a poor communication, we were never told the works would impact the opening of the pools at Nishuane and Essex Parks, even after I specifically asked that question at our March 15 Board meeting when we approved funding. It’s infuriating and I want to apologize to all the families that have been inconvenienced. If there’s a silver lining to this, it’s that in a few months all of these parks are going to have the air and work much better.”

HOMELESSNESS FUND – “We awarded a $5,000 grant to Unhoused Montclair to develop a strategic plan to end homelessness in Montclair. I met with representatives from Montclair Emergency Services for Hope (MESH) to better understand some of the issues homeless people face, beyond the obvious and what we could potentially do to help.”

PLAZA LACKAWANNA – “We have authorized expenditures of $20,000 and the hiring of a company to update the Lackawanna Plaza redevelopment plan. Things are happening here.”

CAPITAL EXPENDITURE – We have passed capital orders to fund the following (non-exhaustive list):

  • “$200,000 to complete ADA upgrades from the alley access (next to Diamond Cycle) to the new Midtown parking deck on Glenridge Ave. and other additional and incidental costs.”
  • “$230,000 for more new parking kiosks and meter updates. What happened last year with the meters was bad enough and we are the ones staying on top of the investments to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
  • “$1.4 million for water infrastructure upgrades at the Watchung Avenue Pumping Station, for various water distribution line upgrades, and for new water meters. This includes also $150,000 for security upgrades to keep our water supply safe.”
  • “$1.2 million to clean up soil contamination in the area around Burnside Street resulting from a leak from an underground storage tank many years ago.”

SHARED SERVICES – “We have renewed our shared services agreement with the school district to provide a school resource constable from the Montclair Police Department to the district from September 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023.”

David H. Henry